As policymakers work on a national broadband plan, CTIA wants the Federal Communications Commission to remember how vital the wireless industry is to the U.S. economy.
The lobbying organization submitted comments yesterday to the Commission highlighting the industry’s contributions – and providing a not-so-little reminder that wireless communications requires towers that aren’t always that easy to get approved in local areas. The FCC has the power to change that, however.
The filing was addressed to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who started in his new position last week, as well as commissioners Michael Copps and Robert McDowell. Two other commissioners – nominees Mignon Clyburn and Meredith Attwell Baker – are awaiting Senate confirmation.
Among the stats, CTIA notes that economic contributions from wireless services have grown significantly faster than the rest of the U.S. economy, averaging more than 16 percent growth vs. less than 3 percent for the remainder of the economy. One chart submitted with the filing shows that economic contributions from the wireless industry exceed those of the rail and air transportation industries combined.
CTIA commissioned a CostQuest study on the scope of areas that are unserved and found that about 23.2 million U.S. residents live in areas where 3G wireless broadband service has not yet been deployed, and that about 43 percent of roads lack such coverage. It will require an additional investment of about $22 billion to reach those areas with a dual-mode network.
The study goes on to say that about 16,000 new cell sites, including towers, will need to be constructed and 55,000 existing sites will need to be upgraded to deliver on the promise of mobile broadband.
The filing notes that widespread zoning delays across the country pose a substantial impediment to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s goals and urges the Commission to grant a petition that would clarify the process for state and local review of wireless siting applications.